KQ CEO Allan Kilavuka asks pilots to cancel planned strike, terms it as sabotage

Kenya Airways CEO Allan Kilavuka has asked pilots to call off their planned strike next week, calling it sabotage and a threat to the airline’s goodwill and support from customers, the government, and Kenyan taxpayers.

Allan said in a heartfelt letter to colleagues that the notice was ill-timed and unwise because the company was about to turn a corner.

“Is this the time to go on strike when the Airline is still relying on taxpayers’ support and goodwill? When we are on a recovery path? When all employees have made the necessary sacrifices and chosen to wait just a little bit longer to reap the full benefits of the sacrifices? When the Government of Kenya has made it clear that it cannot indefinitely continue to fund KQ during this challenging period? When we are beginning to gain the confidence of our passengers? Kilavuka posed.

The Kenya Airline Pilots Association (KALPA), which represents approximately 400 pilots, issued a 14-day strike notice last week in response to KQ’s decision to suspend contributions to the provident fund, which they claim violates a contractual agreement with all employees. According to the pilots, KQ has unilaterally ceased both employee and employer contributions since 2020 and has failed to restart the retirement scheme.

Attempts to negotiate with pilots at a meeting attended by Central Organisation of Trade Union (COTU) boss Francis Atwoli on Tuesday fell through.

Kilavuka states in the letter that the airline remains committed to resuming Provident Fund contributions for all employees but does not currently have enough cash to do so.

“HR shall advise on how the business shall pay the 2020 deferred portion, which may commence in December 2022, subject to affordability and cash availability which is dependent on a network devoid of disruptions,” Kilavuka said.

The CEO also stated that if employees disagree, the airline may suspend the payment of deferred pay and reinstate the provident fund.

“After that, and going by projections in the first half of 2023, we shall resume Provident Fund contributions in quarter 3 of 2023,” he added.

Kilavuka said the management has held numerous consultations with KALPA and no dispute has been registered.

“The union has not exhausted all dispute resolution mechanisms prescribed to them by labour laws nor recorded any matter as a disagreement,” Kilavuka said.

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